For Barcelona, a Valuable Point and a Worrying Sign

DORTMUND, Germany — The difficulty is that the answer is indistinguishable from the issue. That’s the lure that Barcelona can not slightly break out, the Gordian knot that has tangled and ensnared the membership, and tightens with each day and each sport that it’s not unraveled.

There may be not anything intrinsically incorrect with leaving Borussia Dortmund with a blank sheet and a valuable level, even for a group with Barcelona’s requirements and scale. Its scoreless draw Tuesday isn’t a foul lead to any context; given this membership’s fresh reminiscences of highway journeys on this festival, it might simply be noticed as an indication of growth.

Barcelona is, in any case, nonetheless haunted by means of what came about on the Stadio Olimpico in Rome within the spring of 2018. The threat of Anfield, only a few months in the past, stays seared onto its collective thoughts. Ultimate yr, within the conventional eve-of-season speech the membership’s captain offers at Camp Nou, Lionel Messi may handiest promise to catch up on the previous; this time, months after the cave in at Liverpool, he admitted it was once “laborious to mention the rest” in any respect.

Rising unscathed from Sign Iduna Park, from the shadow of the Yellow Wall — Dortmund’s looming, seething South Stand — will, then, be offering a shot of reassurance. There are extra antagonistic events than a gap sport within the workforce phases, however there are few extra intimidating places. This is a balm, relatively than a remedy, however nonetheless: Tuesday’s draw will assist the injuries to heal.

That isn’t the handiest mitigating circumstance. There may be the truth that Barcelona arrived right here with its assets reasonably depleted: Luis Suárez had noticed his begin to the season interrupted by means of damage; Messi had neglected it fully. Barcelona got here to Germany a group in flux, its two attention-grabbing summer season recruits, Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie De Jong, nonetheless settling in, its brightest spark up to now Ansu Fati, a in large part unheralded 16-year-old from the membership’s academy.

It will be unfair, then, to pass judgement on its potentialities at the proof of 1 show, to attract sweeping conclusions from this kind of small pattern measurement. Barcelona will trade because the season marches on. Suárez will to find his edge and his eye. Griezmann will adapt to his new atmosphere.

Javier Mascherano used to mention that it took a yr simply to get used to the particular method Barcelona performs; De Jong, you believe you studied, is from one of these college that would possibly imply he can escape with a condensed path. And Fati, judging by means of his get started, will proceed to increase on the identical blistering tempo at which he has captured a lot of Spain’s creativeness.

However maximum of all, Messi will go back to complete health. He’ll be capable to play greater than the 30 mins he controlled instead in Dortmund. He’ll weave his magic and wield his affect and he’s going to bend video games to his will.

That, in the long run, will likely be Barcelona’s answer; Messi has the capability to polish so brightly that not anything else, no flaws and no ugliness, will also be noticed. Manchester Town and Liverpool — regardless of the latter’s defeat in Naples on Tuesday — could be the standout groups in Europe, however so long as Messi is in its ranks, it’s unimaginable to write down off Barcelona. More and more, regardless that, there’s a sense that this is exactly Barcelona’s drawback.

Messi entered the sector right here — as a super wave of jeers ran down the Yellow Wall — after 59 mins. This is, without doubt, more or less when Supervisor Ernesto Valverde deliberate to introduce him anyway, however that he got here on simply after Marco Reus, the Dortmund captain, had neglected a penalty, simply because the host was once beginning to flip the screw and crank the force, is not likely to were a twist of fate.

At that time, Valverde would admit later, his group had misplaced keep watch over of the sport. At that time, he mentioned, “each counterattack was once very bad.”

Psychologically, for each groups, it felt like crucial second. Dortmund has evolved a name for being not able to deal with setbacks; it was once busy going through as much as its sadness and steaming throughout it. Barcelona was once teetering, and so it did what it all the time did: it regarded to Messi in its hour of want. That’s what Barcelona all the time does, even at the ones occasions when he seems (understandably) a little bit slow, a little bit off the tempo.

They’ve a phrase for it: Messidependencia. To confess its life will have to no longer essentially be learn a grievance. It’s, to some degree, unavoidable, a result of getting a participant of such ultimate ability within the group: a yin and a yang, a herbal stability of items. Now and then final season, Valverde introduced it — no longer fully unfairly — as a energy up to a weak point. After all his group relies on Messi. Which group would no longer be?

The problem is that, sooner or later, there’s going to return a time when Messi — as a result of damage or fatigue or just the lengthy, gradual march of time — isn’t in a position to ship Barcelona. Or, possibly extra pressingly, when his presence isn’t going to be sufficient to masks all the flaws within the group.

This felt like a glimpse of the latter. Messi’s creation was once meant to settle his teammates, and unnerve Dortmund. It didn’t slightly paintings like that. Dortmund swarmed him, once he were given the ball, black-and-yellow jerseys surrounding him, dispossessing him, after which tearing up the sector, towards the Yellow Wall, looking for a step forward.

The probabilities stored coming. Again and again, Barcelona’s protection was once both pried open or, extra steadily, merely bypassed, Dortmund’s blistering velocity an excessive amount of for Gerard Piqué and Clément Lenglet to deal with.

“They did us numerous harm,” Valverde mentioned. Handiest Marc-André ter Stegen, Barcelona’s perfect participant, and his devoted crossbar stored the tide at bay. Messi stood, transfixed, on the different finish of the sector, staring at Dortmund pummel his goalkeeper, not able to assist. That’s not his fault. There may be handiest such a lot he can do.

It didn’t, finally, topic right here. With higher completing, regardless that, it will have. In opposition to a greater group than Dortmund, it could have. There’ll come some extent — on any other Champions League evening, the place the force is bigger and the stakes upper and Barcelona’s reminiscences of what has long past prior to extra vibrant — when which may be an issue.

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